Friday, July 25, 2008

A Few Problems With Luxurious Giada

Giada is making luxurious hotel-quality dishes today. She’s starting with an Italian classic – tiramisu, which literally means Pick Me Up.

She begins by pouring a white liquid into a bowl saying, “To THAT I’m going to add…blah, blah, blah.” To WHAT??? WHAT is in the bowl? Is it milk? Is it cream? Is it Benjamin Moore primer, what?!!

OMG, this is so obnoxious. I’ve played it back three times. How can she pour a pitcher of something into a bowl and say TO THAT I’m going to add something or other?!!

Really annoying, really poor editing, really amateurish. Giada would have been skewered on TNFNS. Ok, whatever…where was I? To a secret undisclosed white liquid, she adds 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon. She says she knows that sounds a little weird. WELL, I wouldn’t know if it’s weird or not, because I HAVE NO IDEA what she’s adding it to. She says she’s whipping it up until she gets nice soft peaks, so I’m going to stick my neck out here and say it was cream in that pitcher.

FINALLY, she says “the whole idea behind whipping the cream is that it creates air and lightness…The whipped cream is starting to thicken.” Thanks for telling us that FINALLY. She sets it aside.

2 cups of room temperature mascarpone go into a bowl with 3 tablespoons sugar. She beats that together and then folds the mascarpone into the cream. Ummm, shouldn’t that be the other way around? Doesn’t one usually fold the cream into something rather than the something INTO the cream? She puts it to one side.

Giada pours ½ cup of hazelnut liqueur into a bowl and 1/3 cup of lemon simple sugar syrup into another bowl. She made the simple syrup by bringing equal parts of lemon juice, water and sugar to the boil and cooking it for a minute or two until the sugar dissolves. She has cooled it completely. I love the idea of the lemon simple syrup, but I can’t decide if I like it with the hazelnut liqueur.

Giada dips half the lady fingers into the liqueur and places them in the bottom of a rectangular glass dish. She pours over the rest of the liqueur. Then she spoons over some of the mystery cream on top of the lady fingers. Then sprinkles it with toasted chopped hazelnuts, toasted at 350°F for 8 - 10 minutes.

The next layer of lady fingers gets dipped in the lemon simple syrup. They go over the cream. She tops it with the mascarpone mixture and chopped nuts and then another layer, which I suppose also get dipped in the lemon simple syrup, since there’s no liqueur left.

Do you think that’s weird? To have the bottom layer dipped in hazelnut liqueur and the top two in a lemon simple syrup? I do. Maybe it's because I’m still holding a grudge for the cream misdemeanor. But I can't help wondering why she didn’t flavor the top and bottom layers the same and use the hazelnut liqueur for the center layer of lady fingers.


For a final touch, Giada zests some lemon rind over the top. It goes into the fridge to sit.

Next are savory profiteroles. For the dough, Giada has ½ cup of water boiling in a pan. She adds 1/2 stick of room temperature unsalted butter in cubes. The butter melts (barely) and she adds 1/2 cup of flour.

I’m not impressed by her technique here. She doesn’t make the point that the butter and the water should be boiling, boiling, boiling when you SHOOT in the flour all at once, off the heat, and then stir like crazy. Her water and butter were languidly cooking and she added the flour in a rather relaxed fashion and then got around to stirring it.

WHAT is going on today? Is the moon in retrograde?

Giada pours the dough into a glass bowl to cool it. She smooths it down and mixes in the eggs one at a time. That part is fine.

BUT she’s using a really annoying ceramic egg holder , which isn’t what you should be storing your eggs in. She puts the shells of the spent eggs next to the perfectly good uncracked eggs. NEVER DO THAT!

Giada mixes the eggs into the dough until it come together. She adds 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, which “makes them luxurious.” She adds salt and pepper. She is definitely pregnant, by the way. At first, it was hard to see, but little Jade is growing bigger by the moment during this episode.

Giada spoons the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with silpat. I hate silpat. I find it makes the outside surface of stuff greasy. She spoons the choux puffs a couple of inches apart from each other. I always use a piping bag, but spooning them IS much faster. She bakes them at 350°F for 45 minutes until they puff up.


She starts the filling. To 8 oz goat cheese, she adds a ¼ cup of cream to thin it out. Oh good, THIS TIME she told us what she was adding. She whips them together with her beloved hand mixer. She chops up sundried tomatoes and adds them to the goat cheese with salt and pepper. Yum.

I love the shots of Paris before each segment.

Giada adds 3/4 cup basil and 3/4 cup mint to a food processor. They’re in the same family, Giada tells us, so they work really well together. They will brighten up the flavor of the goat cheese. She processes them with salt and pepper and then adds 1 cup of fruity extra virgin olive oil.


She cuts the top off the profiteroles with a serrated knife and spoons the goat cheese filling in. She puts back the top at an angle so you can see the filling. Then she drizzles the herb oil over the top and around the platter. She sprinkles chopped and toasted walnuts to add crunch. She picks it up like a sandwich and tastes. She loves this “elegant amazing appetizer”.

Okay, 2 things, the walnuts come out of left field. She's nuts to add nuts to this. This has nothing to do with them. Wait, I suppose that the walnuts, combined with the basil oil and the parm in the choux could perhaps echo a pesto-like flavor. But it is a stretch. AND I don't like the idea of dousing in oil, however lightly, a little choux puff that you're presumably eating with your hands.


The last dish is polenta-crusted shrimp. She assembles the ingredients for the coating: ½ cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper, 2 beaten eggs, 1½ cups polenta, 1½ teaspoons dried thyme and 2 teaspoons paprika.

I like MC’s tip of salting and peppering the food before it’s coated. He says seasoning the flour just isn’t good enough.

Oh, one more thing, she adds ALL that thyme and doesn't rub it in her palm to release the oils. Dried spices are expensive and you should get the maximum amount of flavor out of them. I always measure them into my palm and then rub them into the other ingredients. You can tell from their beautiful scent that you’ve released more flavor than by just throwing them in.

She takes the shrimp and, YUP, she DID NOT season them first. She flours, eggs and polentas them. She places them in pretty rows on a baking tray, looking nicely coated. She drizzles the top with extra virgin olive oil. Giada bakes them at 475°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Interesting. I KNOW they’d be delicious deep fried, but I like that she’s baking them.

The shrimp come out of the oven. Giada leaves them to cool. For a dipping sauce, she mixes together 1½ cups mayo and ¼ cup sour cream with 2 tablespoons Dijon. She chops tarragon and chives and stirs them in and spoons it into a bowl. No tarragon in mine, if you please. She arranges chives on a serving platter and puts the shrimp over. She dips a big one in the sauce. “That is awesome”.

Oh good, Giada didn’t forget the tiramisu. She brings it to room temperature and tastes it. She SAYS she likes the hazelnut liqueur with the lemon syrup. I’m not so sure I would, but at least she identified those ingredients.

5 comments:

Adam said...

I think I agree with you about Giada. I used to like her, but now, not so much. I feel like EVERY dessert she does has mascarpone in it. Sure she's Italian, but come on. And honestly cream cheese tastes almost the exact same and costs about 1/5 less.

Whew, sorry just had to vent :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Maybe the pregnancy hormones were messing with her head?

I'm not crazy about the idea of mixing lemons and hazelnut in the same dessert. But then again, it might be the pregnancy hormones talking.

I find the idea of savory profiteroles intriguiging, although I doubt I would have such an ingredient overkill if I made them.

KAMILLE said...

You're not the only one who thinks hazelnuts and lemons sound a little strange together. Maybe she's having some pregnancy craving and this is her pickle & ice cream sort of thing.
Also, good to know about the dried spices and rubbing them together--thanks.

Emiline said...

Yeah, I don't know about the lemon-hazelnut tiramisu...I'm not saying I wouldn't eat it, because I would.
But when I think of hazelnut, I think of chocolate, coffee and vanilla.

Sue said...

Oh, Adam,
I still LOVE Giada, but I think she’s so superb that I can call her out when she doesn’t live up to her great abilities. Yeah, she does use mascarpone a lot, but it IS so creamy and rich and fantastic (and, yes expensive) that I can’t fault her for that.

Hi Rach,
It could be the pregnancy, even though NOW that I think about it, should she even be HAVING the hazelnut liqueur at all, whether it’s with the lemon syrup or not?!!

I liked the profiteroles filling, just not the gratuitous sprinkling of nuts.

Hi Kamille,
I always like to know when it’s not just me…for anything really.

Em,
I’m with you. If someone offered it to me, I think I could manage to get it down, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be thinking that the hazelnut with lemon was a completely whacked idea.